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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Looking for a Silver Lining

Paul Morose, writing on his At The Races blog, explains why he hasn't been to the Big A, which, he opines, has the atmosphere of a third-world bus terminal (a description I find to be mildly xenophobic), since Thanksgiving weekend.

I find very little at Aqueduct that prompts speculation in the pari-mutuel pools and expect nothing to change after post-scratch re-evaluation of this position. While admittedly more conservative than most horseplayers, a typical week of racing this winter has failed to yield more than a handful of plays and it is not unusual for a card, like [Thursday] – which does not include a single open allowance race but two for maiden claimers and a special weight for state-breds -- to be completely empty.
Well, I certainly can't say he's entirely wrong (at least as far as the quality of racing goes; as you know, I adore the Big A). It's a tough go here at times. There have indeed been some days on which a perusal of the pp's hasn't produced a single race that inspires me to delve further (though Thursday was not one of them). And personally, I just can't abide by these bottom level state-bred maiden, and now, open claimers which NYRA has depended on to fill up the fields and cards. This is actually the first year in a while that I've paid close attention rather than divert nearly all of my handicapping efforts to warmer climes....and there have been times when I have wavered.

However, as is generally the case with this writer, I think he's overdoing it with the gloom and doom. More often than not, I find that there's at least a couple of races on the card that I find interesting enough, particularly the claiming races which require one to read into the trainer's minds to determine intent in addition to analyzing the numbers in the Form. The various conditions attached to claiming races, and the starters allowances and handicaps have helped to keep things reasonably lively, as has the infusion of live horses from the Lake, Ramsey, and Asmussen stables.

Having said that, Gulfstream this is certainly not. But I'm glad I've stuck with it, and I think it will prove to be beneficial for me down the road. For one thing, the seasons change, the heat and humidity turns to the chill of autumn and eventually to ice and snow, the green leaves come and go. So why not experience the ebb and flow of the racing season as well? Sure, one can follow the horses down to Florida, up through Lexington to Belmont and Saratoga and then back south again, and maintain a high level of intensity 12 months a year. But personally, I need a break every now and then. And I believe that enduring the winter racing season will no doubt help me better appreciate the sport as it starts to improve come spring, instead of taking it for granted and grumbling when the racing may not live up to its billing. Because, like it or not, racing that we might consider to be "cheap" is now a 12 month stable around here; just wait until the third week of Saratoga. I'm thinking and hoping that following the NYRA circuit through the hard times will, in addition to giving me a feeling of accomplishment just for sticking with it, help me to be more knowledgeable of the tendencies of the local year-round barns, thus enabling me to take advantage when others are moaning and groaning over all the claiming events you're sure to see in August, and throughout the spring and fall.

- In the 7th at Aqueduct today, Night in Tunisia (7-2) takes a steep drop in class for Pletcher, running for a tag for the first time....and a cheap one (10K) at that. The Toddster is quietly having a decent meeting here, 9 for 37 (24%), and four winners from his last nine starters. This horse has a similar pattern to that of Sunday Elegance, who the barn similarly dropped drastically in class and turned back from a route to a sprint when she romped in a conditional 15K event on Dec 27 (and then moved up to win for 30K earlier this month). Like that one, Night in Tunisia has shown some good early foot; and in fact graduated at this distance at Belmont with a 64 Beyer that certainly makes him competitive here. Gotta love the fact that Dominguez climbs aboard too. All the Way Home is the value play here at his 12-1 morning line. Dropped to this level and cut back to six furlongs in his last, David Duggan's gelding had a deeply troubled trip; squeezed back after the start, buried on the rail, and steadied several times throughout. When finally clear, he finished well for third. Clear path from the 12 post here with Rosie back in the saddle. Honour Above Self (6-1) is clearly the class of this field, but the long absence and return for a cheap price makes him suspicious indeed.

The Rare Treat is down to six, and thanks for the well-wishes for Rap Tale. Good luck to all and have a great day.


Anonymous said...

Anybody who doesn't follow Alan's lefty line is immediately labeled. This guy is "xenophobic." You and Eric Holder must be soul mates. Anyone who disagrees with you on race must be "racist."

Anonymous said...

Alan DON"T even make an excuse for Rap Tail. rail trip NO Horse. Damm it Give that Fiilly a rest. she's been racing for a year no breaks. Jason

Anonymous said...

Thought this might be of some interest:

Gulfstream - Race 6

#8 Denver (12/1 ml)

Pletcher maiden had worked three straight times with heavily-favored barnmate Dunkirk heading into his debut, and we backed him that day @ 22/1. He didn't show much, but now comes into this race having worked heads-up with American Dance, another Pletcher barnmate who ran third in the Remsen behind Old Fashioned and came out of that drill to run in that Dunkirk allowance race on Thursday. Pletcher's main rider John Velazquez now takes over the mount, and dramatic improvement is a possibility. I didn't get a real good look at Denver in the debut run because he dropped back along the rail and was out of the tv picture (the replay is available on You Tube thanks to Dunkirk), but it seems he was not being encouraged much at all turning for home when he finally came back into the picture, then the rider suddenly angled him way outside for room and he left the picture again, but you can make out his shadow moving pretty well after that, and it seems he passed several horses in the stretch (we know for sure that he finished 5th). Might've just been an education run, what with him having drawn the rail, and his barnmate Dunkirk obviously being very well-meant that day. That would also explain his dead-on-the-board status and the lack of a big-name rider that day. Denver is 12/1 on the morning line today, and i think he's worth one more chance. More a leap of faith than anything else, but there's a legitimate chance he could improve dramatically at a big price.

Anonymous said...

Denver (off @ 11/1) showed improved speed today while battling on the pace for a half-mile, but simply fell apart after that. He's no Dunkirk, that's for sure.

Alan Mann said...

>>Anyone who disagrees with you on race must be "racist."

Excuse me, feel free to blast away at my opinions all you like, but don't be putting words in my mouth. I didn't say that and you know it. It's a long ways from observing that a phrase used in a certain context struck me as being a little xenophobic, and accusing someone of being what you said.

Anonymous said...

Rap Tale soon enough will be running at Penn the way you keep running this Philly to the ground. Yea, we did have Rare treat today wathing her struggle to get into the bit.

Alan.... rail this eh,,,

oh don't forget to inform us on her next start. Maybe she can get run 4th in a 5 horse field and u will be jumping for joy.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Dunkirk, he was just flattered by Santana Six.

Anonymous said...

Alan It may be time to dump Bruce Brown and send rap tale to Philadelphia Park. Bruce has much too much on his plate. he now has 2 barns and is not capable of the attention he has to show his horses. Sugar Bear is his main stable and gets all his attention. I see him in the A M it's just too much for him.

Anonymous said...

Rap Tale's "issue in the padock"??

Anonymous said...

It's been almost 11 months (!!!) since Alan interviewed Charlie Hayward when he talked about live video streaming of NYRA's product on the Internet. What does it take to get this product to the masses? The Facebook and YouTube stuff is nice, but people want to WATCH LIVE RACES ON THEIR COMPUTERS -- FOR FREE. End this OTB mess in New York State!

Live video streaming on NYRA's internet wagering site. "When internet wagering was enacted, our view was that it was implicit in the legislation that we would not only be able to have internet wagering, but we could stream the video. Logical. The State Racing and Wagering Board however takes the position that video streaming into the computer is consistent with sending the signal into the home on cable TV, which requires the approval of the OTB's."

"We were nine months ahead of the OTB's [on internet wagering]; it's been five months since we submitted our plan to the racing and wagering board, and to this day, we still can't stream video." Noting that NYCOTB, Capital, and Nassau OTB's now have internet wagering (only the latter has yet to apply for streaming), Hayward expressed hope that an agreement will be reached in which everyone can stream. Internet wagering is a particularly crucial area for NYRA, as it's the only form of off-track betting from which NYRA gets its ontrack handle percentage of 9.9% as opposed to the lower rates from OTB and simulcasting. "Every other account wagering site - Youbet, TVG - has video streaming capability; we did that as part of our account wagering deals. So our own racing and wagering board is not allowing us to compete effectively in the marketplace."

Anonymous said...

Every barn has growing pains, but no matter how big the barn I find it silly to think that a runner in a Stakes race is not getting the attention it deserves.

He MAY have too many horses right now, but he certainly does not have too many Stakes runners.

Anonymous said...

I haven't bet NY racing since they raised the Takeout,and I have more action than I can Handle.